Thursday, July 22, 2010

AFA's Immediate Release re: ICED's Historic Announcement FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Historic Announcement Rejecting the Exclusion of Sign Language in Deaf Education

On July 19, 2010, the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) made important history by rejecting their resolutions from 1880 that banned the use of Sign Language in education for Deaf children and promoted the exclusive use of speech and residual hearing called Oralism. ICED also apologized for the detrimental effects that Oralism has had on the Deaf population for 130 years.

The infamous resolutions from 1880 have been described by many scholars and historians as an attempt at linguistic and cultural genocide as as well as a systematic effort to institutionalize audism, the belief that to hear and speak is superior to being Deaf.

The Congress organizers in conjunction with the British Columbia Deaf Community released at the opening ceremony, their “A New Era: Deaf Participation and Collaboration” which:

• Rejected all ICED Milan 1880 Congress resolutions passed that denied the inclusion of Sign Language in educational programs for Deaf students
• acknowledged and sincerely regretted the detrimental effects of the ICED Milan Congress,
• and called upon all Nations to ensure that educational programs for the Deaf accept and respect all languages.

According to the ICED 2010 press release, “The audience, both Deaf and hearing, spontaneously responded with an outpouring of emotion and a standing ovation.”

Audism Free America (AFA) joins with the Deaf community world-wide in the celebration of this historic event and will remain vigilant of the rights of Deaf citizens. AFA is grassroots Deaf activist organization which advocates for Deaf American rights, cultural resurgence, and seeks primarily to challenge the ideological foundations of audism in America.

Additionally, in a letter to Audism Free America (AFA), Claire Anderson, ICED 2010 Chair wrote, “The impact and decision of the Milan (1880) Congress to ban Sign Language from schools for the Deaf has clearly had a marked affect on the education and indeed the lives of Deaf students. We can all agree that this decision was, quite simply, wrong. it polarized the field of Deaf Education, introduced a contra-productive dogma and limited free choices of individuals and organizations. More importantly from a human and social/emotional aspect, it has been devastating for many Deaf people, their families and the Deaf Community.”

The timing of the New Era document is particularly auspicious, as scholars and activists have noted the beginnings of another wave of Oralism severely impacting Deaf babies and children. Excessive marketing and mandating of assistive listening devices are often integral components of educational programs serving Deaf students today. The claims of reliability and effectiveness of devices such as cochlear implants are highly questionable. Cochlear implants and digital hearing technologies are often coupled with Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT), which effectively prohibits Sign Language. Governments at various levels have begun to utilize developments in genetic engineering and genetic study to implement the diagnosing, documenting, and tracking of Deaf infants genes and family genealogy in a push to deny Deaf people true equality of condition.

The New Era manifesto from ICED 2010 includes an Accord for the Future, which is signed by representatives of ICED, BC Deaf Community, Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD) and World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), calls upon the Nations of the world to right past wrongs, guarantee all Deaf infants and children a right to natural and fully accessible language, and recognize the full human, cultural and linguistic rights of Deaf people. By actively partnering with Deaf people on this document, ICED reaffirmed its new commitment to ensuring equal involvement of Deaf people in their education and issues affecting future generations of Deaf people.

If you would like more information about Audism Free America please contact

Saturday, July 17, 2010

AFA Letter sent to NTID President Search Committee

(letter AFA sent to the NTID Search committee via their Co-Chairs - Miller and Kurz)

27 February 2010

Greetings to the NTID Presidential Search Committee,

It is our understanding that one of the responsibilities of the NTID Presidential Search Committee will be to put together the position description. As a grassroots community organization, Audism Free America (AFA* hopes that the Committee will solicit feedback from campus community as well as the Deaf community at large in the process of choosing the next NTID President.

Input from the stakeholders about the job description as well as each candidate has proven to be very important for Gallaudet presidential searches, and should also be important for this search.

We request that the Search Committee members remain mindful of the fact that NTID’s 1992 Strategic Plan was to “recognize, study, and use English and American Sign Language as languages of the educational community..” Given this, it would be of utmost importance for the next NTID President to have bilingual skills in ASL and English. Furthermore, a record of commitment to bilingual education needs to be part of the experience that a viable candidate would bring to the position.

In addition, it is clear that the next President needs to be a person willing to take on the challenges of audism, both inside the Institute and as an ambassador to the outside. Thus, the Committee should actively examine each candidate’s history related to advocating against policies and procedures that have systematically discriminated against Deaf individuals. Many of us who work inside Deaf educational institutions have found---despite appearances to the contrary---that audism and hearing privilege are particularly rampant in these settings.

A summary of qualities that potential candidates for the next President of NTID should possess include:

• The ability to communicate effectively in American Sign Language.

• Demonstration of a cultural view of Deaf people rather than a pathological view.

• A commitment to addressing audism and promoting its recognition in social and educational contexts.

• Experience with Deaf/Hard of Hearing students from a variety of cultural backgrounds, with preference that the individual be a member of a disenfranchised group.

• Record of promoting educational programming which uses/values BOTH ASL and English. Knowledge of Bilingual pedagogical strategies. Fluent use of ASL and English, experience in Deaf and hearing cultural contexts.

• knowledge of educational reform movements and a record as an innovative change agent in educational programs with Deaf/Hard of Hearing students.

• a visionary in terms of what NTID could become, with experience in making significant changes in an educational institution.

• A visible and active member of the Deaf community both nationally and internationally—or demonstrates the potential to become such a presence.

We wish you the best in the process of creating a job description, which will solicit the best candidates to serve NTID, and actively work to fulfill the vision of RIT as an innovative Institution.

Let Freedom Roll,


*Audism Free America (AFA) is a grassroots Deaf activist organization in the US, which advocates for Deaf American rights, cultural resurgence, and seeks primarily to challenge the ideological foundations of audism in America. Audism is attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice—in overt or covert ways—against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life. AFA is committed to: 1. human and linguistic rights of Deaf people 2. unmasking audism and media misrepresentation 3. advocating for future generations

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ICED's Reply to AFA re: Apology and Our Follow Up Response

AFA had requested that ICED formally apologize for the ICED 1880 Milan Congress resolutions proclaiming the pure oral method to be superior and the law of the land in Deaf education. ICED's response is below as is AFA's follow up reply.

July 6, 2010

To Claire Anderson and the 2010 ICED Planning Committee,

Thank you for your letter in acknowledging the concerns expressed by Audism Free America (AFA) regarding the lack of apology that appears to be forthcoming from ICED for the 1880 Milan Conference resolutions.

While we appreciate the uniqueness of the organizational structure of ICED, there is clearly a continuous history of the Congress as your website traces the lineage of the current Congress back to 1878. In addition, those of you who take on the organizing of the conference do so under the banner of ICED. The explanation of the ICED organizational structure dangerously veers toward an attempt to deny accountability.

Nevertheless, we hope that you can look positively at other cases in which governments/organizations/individuals have made public apologies. For example in 2008, the Australian Prime Minister formally apologized to the indigenous Aboriginal peoples. This acknowledgement of the pain and suffering was caused by laws and policies enacted centuries ago. This apology is a first step toward healing. There are countless other precedents of apologies made in recent years:

Jewish People:

In 1994 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America apologized for the strong anti-Jewish statements made by Martin Luther and the lasting effects his words had on the church and future generations

In 1998 the Roman Catholic Church apologized for its inaction during the Nazi Holocaust.

Native People:

In 1998 the United Church of Canada issued an apology to former students of United Church Indian Residential Schools in regards to cultural assimilation and child abuse.

African-American People:

In 2008 the American Medical Association issued a formal apology for discriminating against black physicians, which did not end until the 1960s

In 2008 and 2009 the US House of Representatives and the US Senate apologized for slavery and Jim Crow injustices.

Deaf People:


Your awareness of some of the devastating effects of the 1880 ICED Resolutions as “wrong” lends support for a formal apology. Scholars have noted that the concept of regret contains no right or wrong associated with the action. In addition, “regret” communicates that the consequences of the resolutions were unintended or something ICED had little control over.

We believe your intentions in working with the BC Deaf Community are good, but you should do the right thing. Be accountable. We are owed an apology.

Let Freedom Roll,


Monday, July 5, 2010

Questions for NAD CEO Finalists from AFA

The National Association of the Deaf has named the following individuals as finalists for the CEO position:

Shane H. Feldman
Howard A. Rosenblum
Darlene Goncz Zangara

During the upcoming NAD Conference, these individuals will have an opportunity to make presentations and answer questions. AFA encourages the finalists to consider addressing the following questions which we feel are of vital importance for those taking on leadership positions:

1. Please share examples of how you have advocated against audism and the strategies you would use as NAD CEO to combat audism.

2. Do you subscribe to a deafness model or a Deafhood model of what it means to be Deaf?

3. Are you aware of the AFA petition calling for an independent and impartial investigation of CI safety? Have you signed it or would you sign it now that you are aware of it?

4. What is your understanding of the neo-oralism/neo-eugenics movement and how do you feel NAD should respond?

5. Are you aware of the DBC petition promoting bilingualism as the birthright of all Deaf children? Have you signed it or would you sign it now that you are aware of it?,com_joomlapetition/Itemid,/catid,1/func,viewcategory/

Friday, July 2, 2010

AFA Vlog: Y E S we can - KUDOS

AFA wishes to recognize and congratulate some recent positive activism:
1. NAD for requesting the term "audism" be put into the dictionary
2. Advocacy Services for Abused Deaf Victims ASADV and Deaf Abused Woman’s Network DAWN for writing letters opposing Cyberbullying within the Deaf community
3. Cochlear Implant Suits:
- Dept of Justice fines Cochlear Americas for kick backs
- FDA fines Advanced Bionics for faulty cochlear implants
4. AB 2072 activism - rallying and lobbying for positive and just legislation
Its wonderful to witness all of this growth as we all work for an audism free America.
Big hand waves to all of you for making a difference